The Readers Durham Cricket League season started on Saturday, with Houghton quick to make an impact in Division Two.
On a day when five of the 12 scheduled matches across the two divisions were wiped out altogether, the Second Division honours belonged to Houghton.
The whipping boys on many occasions during their debut 2015 season, they only won two games throughout last summer, losing the other 22 matches.
But things look a lot brighter after their strengthened squad blew away hosts Silksworth in a one-sided affair.
Silksworth found it rough going against a rampant Houghton attack, and were shot out for 47 in 29 overs, Ross Bainbridge their main tormentor with 5-11 from 12 overs.
Robbie Jones was the only Silksworth batsman to reach double figures, posting five boundaries in a 42-ball 28.
It took just 13 overs for the victory to be secured, with nine wickets in hand, with Houghton’s first ever overseas professional, Gandhar Bhatawadekar, producing a little unbeaten cameo innings to go with his earlier wicket.
The other second tier winners were Marsden, their nine-wicket triumph over Murton being strikingly similar to Houghton’s.
Murton found Stephen Neilson (5-29 from 10 overs) too difficult to handle in damp conditions, and they slid to 69 all out in 26 overs.
Home skipper Chris Mann then hit seven boundaries on the way to an unbeaten 36 which had the points in the bag in just 16 overs.
Whiteleas found themselves frustrated by the limitations of the weather.
Visitors Langley Park had 34 overs of batting, and managed to score 142-8, Steven Jackson their main man with 11 fours in his 80-ball 68.
Leas’ 30-over response got off to a poor start, hampering any victory ambitions, and on 20-3 it fell to Abdul Ameer (42) and Owen Peterson (40) to rebuild, which they duly did although losing their wickets in the closing stages to leave the hosts on 125-5.
Just two games in the top flight produced an outright result, and both provided shocks as two champion clubs took a first day hit.
The reigning Division One title holders, Esh Winning, were soundly thrashed at Burnopfield, while last season’s Division Two top dogs, Seaham Park, found life at the higher level a touch more demanding.
Park lost just once in 2015 as they romped away with the second tier honours, but hosts Easington provided an uncomfortable afternoon for the new boys as they delivered an 86-run demolition job.
Seaham were on a high in the opening overs as they reduced their hosts to 4-2, but then Ryan Higgins (four fours and two sixes in 71) and Jason Moses (34) came together in a third-wicket partnership that formed the basis of a home comeback which eventually ended on 181-7 after 47 overs.
Seaham also found themselves two down in no time when the run chase began, Chris Allan then seeking to emulate the Easington resurrection as he struck six fours and two sixes on the way to 48.
But the fall of his wicket sparked the beginning of the end as the last six batsmen mustered just 14 runs between them as Park were closed down for 95.
Jordan Wilson (3-44) led the home strike force, with skipper Dane Wilson and new old boy Robbie Atherton each striking twice.
Burnopfield’s win over Esh Winning was clinical, and owed much to the Durham old boys brigade.
Callum Thorp cracked 57 from 51 balls as his side amassed 204-9, then Neil Killeen cleaned out the top order in a nine-over spell of 4-15, with left arm spinner Lawrence Wood profiting as he mopped up the tail with five wickets for five runs.
Esh collapsed to 81 all out, only Michael Oughton (35) putting up any resistance.
The other two Division One games to get the go-ahead ended in stalemate, the highlight coming at Bunker Hill where only nine wickets fell while 422 runs were scored in the game between Philadelphia and Bill Quay.
Phili looked to be in a good place at the interval after racking up 223-5 declared in 45 overs, skipper Shaun Smith (60 from 107 balls) enjoying a wonderful opening partnership with the prolific Shaun Hauxwell (nine fours and three sixes in a 92-ball 87).
The pair put on 149 for the first wicket, with the final polish put on the innings by Peter Greenwell’s unbeaten 42 at a run-a-ball.
But Bill Quay were unbowed, Chris Little (50 from 101 balls) and Will Gardner (40 from 99 balls) frustrating any home hopes of a win as they provided Quay with a solid opening base that ensured defeat was eliminated from the list of possible outcomes.
Indeed, when they closed on 199-4 from 43 overs after some late acceleration, they may even have flirted with thoughts of what a little more early adventure could have brought.
Dawdon (173-8 in 45 overs) were unable to force a result at Durham City (122-7), Andrew Hutchinson the home saviour with an unbeaten 33, helped by two fours and two sixes, from the number eight slot. Mark Ewart pounced twice for Dawdon.
Earlier, England women’s international Danni Hazell (4-40) had ended Alan Anderson’s 86-ball vigil at the crease which produced 65 runs for the visitors.
Steven Gale added 23 and Bhavesh Patel 27, while Ian Conn struck twice for City.